When I feel overwhelmed – which is often- I like to be in complete darkness and silence. I switch the displays on both my laptop and phone to black. I turn off the lights and sit down, rocking myself gently.
I live in two worlds and I’m in constant tug-of-war between the two. But I’m always leaning towards my inner world, my refuge.
My sensory system is extremely sensitive and everything around me is amplified. I hear, feel,smell,see everything all at once, with nothing being relegated to the background, which is what would happen in a normal sensory system.
I learnt very early on to create an inner world where I wasn’t constantly barraged by noise and people. A place where I could muse and focus on the things that I wanted. This world became all the more elaborate, while I remained aloof to the outside world.
She’s extremely shy, teachers would tell my mum. She doesn’t talk much. I was selectively mute until I reached puberty. There was nothing that hindered me per se. But I had to choose between my inner universe and playing with snotty kids. So I’d take to myself and observe the world from afar.
Most of my memories are of the ground and people’s shoes, and the sky. I didn’t like looking at people. I still don’t. But I’ve found that the reason isn’t because I fear people’s gaze or anything – but I think in pictures, not words. It’s difficult for me to focus unless I write it down, or visualize it in my head. I do that when I read something astonishing in a book or article; I look away and ruminate on this new piece of knowledge, as if I’m filing it away somewhere in my brain. So the same thing happens with people – I can’t focus and look them in the eye simultaneously. Something has got to give. I look down as I listen intensely to what is being said, and not simply waiting for my turn. I ask many follow-up questions and seemingly irrelevant information like the colour of the car that almost hit her, or how tall he was at the time of the story, or exactly how long ago ‘long ago’ is? I keep an intricate network of information in the form of images, like a gigantic vision board. And as I’m painting this image of a certain incident that someone is telling me, I need enough details to fit it into the overall pattern, algorithm of said vision board. Until I have a complete understanding of a piece of information, I’ll put it in the back burner. Sometimes I mull over an issue or question for years before I take a stance on it.
If it’s light hearted banter, then I’m not so particular about it.
Over the years, the images on my inner vision board have grown elaborate and since I use a certain algorithm before I paint the image, everything is interconnected. Many a times, I only need to know the gist of a topic before I’m well-acquainted with it. Likewise, i never really employ rote learning, so I either remember something in detail by taking a mental screen shot of sorts, or I disregard it completely.
I still remember the birthdays of my classmates from 6th grade, and the thoughts I had when I was 3 and the scary dream I had when I was 5. My earliest memory is from when I was 2, and I know this actually happened because my parents weren’t aware of it. I was with a nanny as my mum had her hands full with the twins who were a couple of months. I remember what I wore, the weather, and the miniature police car I was playing with.
Likewise, if I’m asked a question that I’m not familiar with, I’m still able to answer correctly based on the search algorithms that underpin all that I know.
Because the world is not made for my ilk, I’ve had to program my own softwares (values, principles, etc.) and create every step that I put my foot on. I’m constantly fumbling in the dark and I have no comfort zone. This is extremely taxing and although the reward is my emancipation, it’s a heavy burden to bear. I get easily overwhelmed. One misstep, and I get buried under the weight of my consciousness which is potentially fatal. My mind is like a wild horse that I need to tame and control, or else it’ll throw me off and stomp me to death.